Media Effects Research Lab - Research Archive

Examining relationships among Instagram affordances, gratifications, and problematic Instagram use: A technological addiction perspective

Student Researcher(s)

Cheng Chen (Ph.D Candidate); Olivia Cohen (Ph.D Candidate)

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

This paper was based on project, as part of the Comm 506 course.

 

INTRODUCTION
The photo sharing platform Instagram is one of the most popular social networking sites among young adults today (Smith & Anderson, 2018). Public and scholarly concerns with addiction-like behaviors have been around since the advent of the Internet, and more recently with social media. Drawing on the technological addiction perspective (Griffiths, 1995), this study examines how technology-related factors (i.e., affordances and gratifications) were related to problematic Instagram use (PIU), as well as the mediating role of gratifications in the relationship between affordances and PIU.

 

RESEARCH QUESTION / HYPOTHESES
The direct relationship between affordance and PIU
H1a: There will be no direct relationship between the affordance of lurking and PIU.
H1b: The affordance of broadcasting will be negatively related to PIU.
H1c: The affordance of community-building will be positively related to PIU.

The direct relationship between gratifications and PIU
H2a: Modality-based gratifications will be positively related to PIU.
H2b: Agency-based gratifications will be negatively related to PIU.
H2c: Interactivity-based gratifications will be positively related to PIU.
H2d: Navigability-based gratifications will be negatively related to PIU.

The indirect relationship among affordance, gratifications, and PIU
H3a: Modality-based gratifications will mediate the relationship between lurking and PIU.
H3b: Modality-based gratifications will mediate the relationship between broadcasting and PIU.
H3c: Agency-based gratifications will mediate the relationship between broadcasting and PIU.
H3d: Interactivity-based gratifications will mediate the relationship between broadcasting and PIU.
H3e: Navigability-based gratifications will mediate the relationship between lurking and PIU.
H3f: Navigability-based gratifications will mediate the relationship between community-building and PIU.

 

METHOD
Survey data were collected from a large public university in the U.S. by using the convenient sampling method. Participants were recruited from five communication courses. Of the 761 potential participants, 527 successfully completed the survey. Extra credit points were awarded to students whose course instructor agreed to provide this incentive. In the data-cleaning process, largely incomplete responses (n = 14) and non-Instagram users (n = 20) were excluded from the dataset. Thus, a sample of 493 Instagram users were used for data analysis.

 

RESULTS
Results from multiple hierarchical regression showed that the affordance of broadcasting (B = .34, SE = .08, p < .001) and community-building (B = .16, SE = .08, p < .05) were positively related to PIU, whereas there is no direct relationship between lurking and PIU.  Thus, H1a and H1c were supported, but H1c was rejected.

Moreover, PIU was positively related to interactivity-based (B = .08, SE = .04, p < .05) and agency-based gratifications (B = .08, SE = .04, p < .05), but was negatively related to navigability-related gratifications (B = .17, SE = .04, p < .001). Surprisingly, there is no relationship between agency-based gratifications and PIU. Thus, the results support H2a, H2c, and H2d, while rejecting H2b.

Regarding the mediation analysis, results from PROCESS macro Model 4 showed that modality-based gratifications positively mediated the relationship between lurking and PIU (B = .08, SE = .02, 95% CI [.04, .12] as well as the relationship between broadcasting and PIU ((B = .06, SE = .02, 95% CI [.01, .11]. Similarly, interactivity-based gratifications also positively mediate the relationship between broadcasting and PIU (B = .03, SE = .02, 95% CI [.00, .06]. In contrast navigability-based gratifications mitigate the effect on lurking on PIU (B = -.07, SE = .02, 95% CI [-.11, -.03]. However, no mediating relationship was found between broadcasting, agency-based gratifications, and PIU as well as community-building, navigability-based gratifications, and PIU. Therefore, H3a, H3b, H3d, and H3e were supported, but H3c and H3f were rejected.

 

CONCLUSIONS/DISCUSSION
Based on the monothetic screening criteria, 25.10% of participants are diagnosed with PIU. Risk factors for PIU are affordances of broadcasting (i.e., features for self-expression) and community-building (i.e., features for social connection) as well as modality-based and interactivity-based gratifications. By conceptualizing PIU as a technological addiction, we argue that technology is not neutral in the development of unhealthy social media use. Instead, some technological affordances have high addictive potentials, such as broadcasting and community-building. The mediating role of gratifications points out the condition of developing PIU when engaging with Instagram affordances. By contrast, if the perceived navigability-based gratifications are more robust, they are less likely to have PIU. Therefore, app developers can reduce problematic social media use by encouraging users to look around and explore new features on Instagram.

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at sss12@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

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